From an 80 litre backpack to Minimalism

Back in the days, when I started going into the mountains, I started exactly like almost anyone else. An 80 litre fully packed heavy backpack, with tent, sleeping mat, boots and other things hanging out the exterior. All that for no more than 2 or 3 days hiking in the summertime.

Fast forward to today. A 35+8 litre fully packed backpack, with nothing else but my sleeping mat on the exterior. All that for a period of 8 full days of camping in late cold autumn.

The difference?

Over 10 years apart, a lot of experience – to be read trial and error – organizing, packing and developing a sixth sense for the useless, unneeded things, more enjoyable experiences and… empty pockets. You know, good lightweight gear can be expensive.

I’ve also quit carrying bottles of beer up the mountain, but that’s another thing.

How I started with Minimalism

I found out about the concept of minimalism about 2 or 3 years ago when I came across Leo Babauta’s blog, mnmlist. I was already a minimalist – just didn’t know it yet – when packing my backpack for hiking trips, but never thought of expanding that to my whole life. So I went on reading and experimenting with the concept.

Getting rid of most of my things

Have you ever thought about getting rid of most of your possessions? That’s a tough choice. And a scary perspective. What if you’ll need them at some point, right?

I feared the outcome, but I still did it. I did it more out of curiosity. Got rid of more than 70% of what I had owned. Sold and gave away most of them and threw away some.

And I never needed any single item I’ve dumped.

OK, fuck the clothes. But what about the books?

While most of the process was a comforting experience, getting rid of my books was the hardest decision. That was a problem. But I solved it by thinking that books need to be read. If they’re going to spend years and years on my shelves without being read, they won’t be serving their purpose.

So that was it. I convinced myself and started donating them to friends, or leaving them in places around town with a message for the future reader inside. That worked wonders.

The result

After that, my mind was a lot more relaxed every time I would come back home. I felt more free and more calm than I’ve ever felt before in my life. Apart from childhood. That doesn’t count.

While experimenting, I continued to look on the internet for more information – or to have something to do since the few things left in my room didn’t need organizing anymore – so I found out about¬†The Minimalists, another very good source on the concept of minimalism, one of the best I’ve come across so far.

Minimalism is not the end result, it’s a continuous process

With the passing of time, I’ve still accumulated more stuff, but I try to be watchful whenever I’m about to buy something. The process is continuous. It’s never done. You need to evaluate your possessions on a constant basis.

From material to mental

After some time I got into the habit of asking myself if I need that or the other. Most of the times I do not. That’s now easy with material possessions.

But what about the mental possessions? What about all those fears lurking deep inside the dark unexplored forests of our minds? What about all those limiting beliefs we cling on to every day?

Digging out into the dark recesses of our minds is by far the hardest thing to do and I bet we can agree on that. It comes out only later, after you dump most of the material distractions from everyday life. Then, the mind has no other stuff left to hide behind, no defense.

All that remains is a lot less than before, forcing you to spend more time with yourself, which is a good thing. But it’s also one of the scariest and hardest things of them all.

Because of that we start running away from ourselves. To others, to fun and parties and alcohol, to distant adventures, to anything that can keep us away from ourselves.

Once you understand it, you can counter it. But you should prepare yourself for a long term arduous process.

Now, who’s in for some decluttering?

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